So you've heard somebody calling someone an NPC, or maybe even were called one yourself, and now you are wondering: what does it mean? Coming from video games and now being throwed around by Zoomers as an insult, the acronym has been on a rise lately. Read all about what an NPC is and why you are really not one in brief explainer.
What Is ‘NPC?'
First and foremost, NPC is an acronym of "non-playable character," meaning any character in a game that is not controlled by the player. The term originated from pen-and-ink roleplaying games, and got adopted in video game development as early as the 1990s. NPC has been a term commonly used by gamers to refer to video game characters since that time.
In September 2018, users 4chan applied the terminology to real-life people they deemed devoid of individuality and decision-making, those they considered to blindly follow the lead without giving anything any real thought, or even having inner monologue – sheeple, if you will. That was the time the so-called NPC Wojak, a grey Wojak character with a blank expression used to depict such individuals, went viral, and the term "NPC" was first used to insult people.
Therefore being called an NPC is akin to being called a person without individuality, originality or personality, who serves only as a background character in other people's lives.
The way 4chan coined the term goes a bit further back to a viral post that argued that there is only a fixed quantity of people on Earth. You can dig deeper into it in our database entry about the meme.
‘NPC’ Usage In Memes
There are several meme formats associated with the NPC meme. First and foremost, there is the original NPC Wojak, a familiar grey face with a pointy nose and blank expression. The NPC Wojaks often speak in unison as if they all are part of a single hivemind.
Then there's an Angry NPC Wojak version. He frowns when his beliefs are questioned.
And finally, there is the NPC update chip, a recent meme format in which the NPC Wojak updates its programming to the latest global issue.
Is NPC an Insult?
Yes, being called an NPC is an insult: the person saying it means that you're devoid of personality, originality and individuality. Strike them back with a quest to go outside and touch grass immediately!
Is There a Philosophy Behind the NPC Meme?
Believe it or not, there is a philosophical idea that very much aligns with the NPC meme. It's called solipsism, and it holds that knowledge of anything outside one's own mind is unsure. Which means there's no way to prove that any other minds other than your own are real!
For the full history of NPC memes be sure to check out our entry for more information.